As early as possible tomorrow morning, although it'll no doubt be after 9.30am by the time I've faffed round, I'm hitching the caravan up to Fiona and launching forth on another Odyssey.
The first problem will be just getting off my drive. The gas people have filled my road with fenced-off holes in order to put in a modern yellow plastic gas main (plus side-branches to individual houses). Squeezing past these will be no small feat. I've made my getaway as simple as I can by mounting a shameless charm offensive towards the three diamond geezers who are doing the work in my road (actually they are polite and pleasant thirty-something guys with designer stubble and nice eyes) - making sure that I remind them of my presence and concerns by having a few friendly words with them every day. I've tried to make their job easy by not making waves over access to my house and garage for necessary drilling, excavation, tests and checks; and, when I'm out, making sure that a neighbour has keys to give them if required. Once or twice I've offered cups of tea.
They've been able to ogle me as they wished. A variety of outfits: tatty leggings and an old top; a dressing gown and nothing else; posh jacket and slinky stuff to match. Hair made up, hair in a mess. Make-up on, make-up off. But charm and elegance and no-nonsense confidence throughout. I gave one of these lusty fellows an eyeful of tit when winding up the corner steadies on my caravan, so that it could be temporarily shifted away from the house, in case they needed to dig a hole. God knows what they have made of me. But in return they have been most obliging with scheduling their work so that everything essential is finished at my house in time for my departure. There is some making-good left to be done during the next few days, after I'm gone, but nothing that can now stop me getting away on time.
Ah, the open road beckons! But it's not an open-ended adventure, never knowing from day to day quite where I'll be. The entire three weeks has been booked well ahead, so that I know for certain what to expect, and will avoid the situation, sometimes experienced in the past when touring, where no pitches are available except on nightmare sites that no-one would ever wish to return to. And I don't do 'wild camping' in roadside lay-byes, whatever the apparent attraction. Not in a caravan. It can, I agree, be OK in a motorhome or campervan - it's one self-contained and secure unit; you are safely locked in; you can reach the driving seat without going outside; and if there's any sign of trouble, you can just drive off. But you can't 'just drive off' with a caravan.
For peace of mind, if nothing else, I would always want the security of a proper caravan site. Whether it's a farm site where I know the owners, or a Caravan Club site, there is backup and support if anything goes wrong. Such as a technical problem with the caravan, or some personal mishap. That's become very important since I began caravanning on my own in 2009, especially as feminisation has robbed me of strength and made me vulnerable. In any case, as I get older I'm getting more and more reluctant to take chances on anything.
But if the places I shall pitch are set in stone, the people I might meet are not.
One of the attractions of a caravan touring is that you are bound to encounter all kinds of people you've never met before, not just on site, but out and around. I do, unfailingly; and the thought of meeting someone new who might prove to be a lifelong friend is always a delicious possibility. Not a Holiday Romance, I am not looking for that, but the kind of close friendship that blossoms when you find that you have an awful lot in common, and the chemistry is good. It's one of the reasons (though not the only one of course) why I will always holiday on my own. I want to be a free agent. Just in case. And it doesn't matter that my successes in the last year or two have been meagre. There is always the chance!